Good COP, Bad COP — or COP out in COPenhagen

Watcha gonna do when AGW comes for you?

Must get the COP-15 puns out of my system now, but I welcome more puns from you all on this Conference of Parties — which has become a true Party of Conferences, with NGOs booted out of the Bella Center and forced to confer separately!

I’m not sure if COP-u-late works, but while it’s definitely not too a COP-too-late to avoid a climate catastrophe, it will be if COP-15 fails.  Then we’ll all be singing, What will you do when anthropogenic global warming impacts come for you?  [OK, not catchy lyrics, indeed, not lyrics anyone wants to catch.]

I’ve been schmoozing a bit with muckety-mucks — you know, your Al Gores and Tim Wirths and even your Dan Reichers [don’t worry, there’s only one of my former boss at DOE] — and I must say that the mood is not optimistic.  What nobody can yet tell is whether:

  1. Maybe COP-15 in Copenhagen will be a cop out, with no substantive agreement on major issues other than perhaps a plan to halt deforestation aka REDD or
  2. Maybe the senior climate negotiators are playing an elaborate game of good cop, bad cop, where they are the bad cops and their bosses — the ministers and world leaders — are the good cops.

Stay tuned to this space because I’m not certain we’ll know until late Friday, or perhaps mid-day Saturday, or perhaps not until early Sunday, as some negotiators seem to be planning for.

The rest of this post is the daily round-up by Brad Johnson, “Copenhagen Day Ten: Pressure Increases For A Fair, Ambitious, And Binding Deal“:

Negotiations continue behind closed doors and the shape of a final agreement is coming together, as the political stakes are raised in Copenhagen by the arrival of 119 heads of state.

COP15 Youth Sit-in

Voice Of The Future

During the opening of the high level segment of the Copenhagen conference, “approximately 30 international youth staged a sit-in” in the middle of the convention hall, “refusing to leave the talks until a fair, ambitious, and legally binding treaty was reached.” Youth from every corner of the globe “” “Canada, Wales, Turkey, France, U.S., Denmark, Australia, Germany, China, Lebanon, England, Ireland, Kenya, Norway” “” “began to read the names of the more than 11 million people who signed a petition demanding the same fair, ambitious, and legally binding agreement that is needed to avoid dangerous climate change and usher in a global clean energy economy.” As of 9 PM Copenhagen time, the sit-in continues, despite at least one youth being dragged out by security.

The People Are Locked Out

The hundreds of members of Friends of the Earth International, the largest global grassroots environmental federation in the world, were barred from entering the Bella conference center today, because United Nations officials believed some were planning to participate in an effort to help demonstrators into the center. The protesters outside “” calling for a treaty commensurate to the scale of the climate crisis “” were beaten and pepper sprayed by police as they pushed toward the conference. Representatives of indigenous peoples, whose voice is heard but influence is limited, were blocked in their attempt to join with the protesters.

The 22,000 members of every non-governmental organization (NGOs) will be effectively locked out for the rest of the conference, with only 1000 allowed in on Thursday and 90 on Friday. “Their absence in the crucial final days of the conference will be a blow to poor nations who rely on NGO assistance to get their voices heard, the NGOs say, and it will keep out non-governmental experts who could quickly analyze any proposed deals, leaving the world hearing only the claims of politicians.”

‘If The Climate Was A Bank, They Would Have Already Saved It’

Heads of state from 119 countries have begun making statements at the plenary. Venezuela President Hugo Chavez condemned capitalism for “everything that’s wrong with the planet,” saying “if the climate was a bank, [the United States] would already have saved it.”

The speech by Australia’s Climate Change Minister Penny Wong “” who represents the “umbrella group” of the United States, Canada, Japan and New Zealand “” was interrupted by protesters yelling “climate justice now.”

Julian Wong: Seeing China Clearly

In the second week of negotiations, the two issues that continue to gain the most attention on China’s position on international financing and transparency. Our friends tracking the China delegation at ClimateProgress report that China is unambiguous about the fact that it is not “first in line” for access to international climate funds, but it does not disqualify itself from it entirely either.

On transparency, China is willing to go the whole nine yards on subjecting its climate change actions to international standards of verification (technically known as MRV, or measurable-reportable-verifiable), but only if such actions are supported by financial or technological assistance. So far, China has been able to self-fund its extensive climate actions. Instead, China promises to uphold transparency on unsupported actions through its own domestic system of auditing, supervision and assessment, or ASA. Are these two standards of transparency so different as to be irreconcilable? The drama will be played out in the next few days. « Less

Africa Finds Agreement With Western World

Ethiopian Prime Minister and head of African delegation Meles Zenawi, in partnership with France, has “moved to a last-minute rescue plan to reach global climate deal as the ongoing negotiation faces uncertainties.” The plan, which was announced after a meeting between Zenawi and French president Nicholas Sarkozy and a phone call from President Obama, is also endorsed by the United States and the United Kingdom. However, “one of the sharpest critiques came from Desmond Tutu, the South African archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize laureate,” who said today in a letter to African heads of state that the emission cuts on the table would “condemn Africa to incineration and no modern development.”

9 Responses to Good COP, Bad COP — or COP out in COPenhagen

  1. MarkB says:

    From the AGU 2009 fall meeting, Dr. Santer calls on colleagues to stand up to the political hacks.

    Joe, have you had a chance to follow any of the interesting lectures at the AGU meeting? It’s one of the most important scientific gatherings of the year for climate scientists, although it coincides with Copenhagen, which is more on the policy front. Richard Alley I read was scheduled to give an interesting presentation yesterday. I’m not sure if any of it is online. Putting it there would help close the science/public communication gap.

  2. Jeff Huggins says:

    Almost no matter what happens in Copenhagen, people concerned about the climate and the future — and that SHOULD include just about everyone with a brain — will need to get much more active. I say this because, even if some luck shines down on Copenhagen and we manage to get a “barely-tolerable, overly-compromised, first-step” outcome, it won’t be anywhere near sufficient.

    So, get out your 350 hats, put back on your thinking caps, and let’s get creative.

    Be Well,


  3. Thanks for providing the great on the scene perspective from Copenhagen, Joe. I’ve been digging the video coverage you’re giving us too.

    I’m in complete support of the young people staging the sit-in and I appreciate them putting themselves on the line to represent me and the other 11 million people who signed the petition. I was heartened to read that Sen Kerry offered his support and encouragement too.

    I agree with Rev Tutu’s stance on the paltry emission cuts that have been offered by the US especially. And if our negotiators are indeed playing games like good cop/bad cop then they’re playing Russian roulette. Archbishop Tutu spoke for me in his letter yesterday when he wrote, “This is a moral issue, it is a matter of justice for especially the weak and most vulnerable and the developed world is noted for seeking to do what is right and good.”

    From my perspective though, Joe, the final headline in your post is way off base: “Africa Finds Agreement With Western World” Really? I don’t think so.

    A more accurate headline would have been “African Dictator Sells Out His Continent After Shakedown”

    An even better headline was the one Jamie Henn of used in his more on-the-nose coverage of this part of the story:

    “Corruption: Sarkozy, Obama Pressure Ethiopia’s Zenawi to Betray Africa’s Future at Copenhagen Climate Talks”

    Since Jamie and his generation will be screwed by the consequences long after people like you and me are gone, Joe, I’m paying particularly close attention to his assessment of what’s happening in Copenhagen.

    Here’s what Bill McKibben said about this supposed “Agreement With Western World” from Jamie’s blog post:
    “The ugly and overt pressure on developing countries to sign an agreement that will put their very survival in jeopardy has begun,” said founder Bill McKibben. “It’s very tough to stand up to the Americans, especially Barack Obama. But even the U.S. president can’t protect nations against rising waters, withering droughts, and dried-up glaciers. This is the moment for Africa, for island nations, for the developing world to insist on a future.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m glad President Obama is going to Copenhagen, but I don’t need him to pretend to be a cop. If he’s going to role play, I’d rather he pretended to have the strength, courage and leadership skills of President Nasheed of the Maldives. I’d rather he stopped pandering to carbon-corrupted Congress and started heeding the scientific reality. Being much better than George W. Bush is not the standard.

    I appreciate hearing about what’s politically possible. But that’s not the best we can do, and it’s not going to get the job done. It’s time for the improbable.

  4. dhogaza says:

    Richard Alley I read was scheduled to give an interesting presentation yesterday. I’m not sure if any of it is online. Putting it there would help close the science/public communication gap.

    Supposedly it will be online soon. I’ve read some commentary about it. Apparently he began by talking about how a Penn State alum tried to get him fired for claiming that there’s no peer-reviewed work that overturns climate science.

  5. pillerill says:

    Keep up the good work deceiving the public.
    We will be rewarding you at a later date.


  6. dane says:

    I checked out your op-ed piece, Dan and thought it was wonderful and cogently put. I think you ought to get it circulated more widely.

  7. dane says:

    Joe, if you click on my name “dane” here, you can read my important oped in the Juneau Empire today, taking issue with Sarah Palin and Marc Morano etc, in a Jeremiah kind of screed. Some liked it, some didn’t. Your take?

  8. Bill Woods says:

    I don’t get the cartoon. Obama and *Bush* are doing ‘good cop, bad cop’?

    Wie wäre es, wenn du ab sofort freiwillig mit uns zusammen arbeiten würdest?
    ‘How about if you [Earth] were willing to work together with us?’

    [JR: I just looked for a cute cartoon. Thanks for the translation. The picture is better than the caption.]

  9. Lawrence Baker says:

    Global Warming-IS- Human / Industrial Pollution
    As you know, scientist and science itself has been slandered with misinformation and ridiculed in advance of the talks. (A favored, repeated, and effective, right wing tactic).
    Is Global Warming related to human/ industrial pollution? The atmosphere seems to be an arbitrary subject right now because of the propaganda effort to confuse the linkage between burning of fossil fuels and its effect on the atmosphere.
    The real question is- are we going to put pandering ahead of science in addressing and acting upon human/industrial pollution now and in the future?
    The best indisputable SCIENCE example that should be a test model and the #1 item on the Copenhagen Agenda would be the toxic plastic waste dump, the size of Texas, 900 miles off of the United States and Canadian West Coast.
    That is a Big SCIENCE problem with no dedicated U.S SCIENCE and INNOVATION DEPARTMENT to address the issue. The U.S (or Canada) has not even sent out a SCIENCE research vessel to evaluate this ecological disaster; neither country wants to take the responsibility for the industrial/human pollution or even acknowledge its existence.
    No Profit-No Action!-No SCIENCE! Will the World Trade Organization and the New Industrial World Order address the issue? Where is their World SCIENCE Department? Advancement in SCIENCE would outmode the use of fossil fuels but the U.S has not funded innovative SCIENCE since 2001.
    Can the problem be solved with SCIENCE? Probably so, Americans are very ingenious primarily because we were raised with the compliments of Freedom and Democracy and are free thinking individuals. We could probably figure a way to clean up the mess and possibly make a profit doing so.
    We can do nothing until we have a funded DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE that is free to address SCIENCE and to develop the advancement of SCIENCE. (Yes, for the sake of humanity; SCIENCE FIRST-PANDERING SECOND.)